The burning issue for any stakeholder in the content / media production space is piracy and battling its negative impacts.
Front Row Film Entertainment, a Dubai-founded distributor that’s got into co-productions was founded by Gianluca Chakra, says the acquisitions / distributions business is not affected as the firm continues to buy more than 100 films a year.
But Chakra fears the fight against piracy might not be one that can be won as easily. “You can’t win the battle, you can never fight piracy unless the telcos completely clamp down on pirate sites. We collaborate with anti-piracy associations, locally but not much is being done. The problem exists because people like to watch stuff for free. It’s just as simple as that.
“Today, theatrical releases are done on the same day with the US or the first territory the film is released in. It has to be released as close as possible just to avoid piracy. In the past, you used to have a gap of four months between a theatrical release and VOD / DVD availability. Now it’s shortened to a matter of weeks all to counter piracy.”
Chakra cited the Bollywood industry’s practice of theatrically releasing movies a day earlier in the Middle East than in India. “It’s done because they know that three days after releasing any Bollywood title you are going to have it available for download. We also know this for a fact that the Filipino audience relies on piracy. It’s not different for audiences in the west either.”
Closer to home, Chakra talks about the existence of a pirate pay TV network that is currently “not being fought by anybody because it’s tied to a whole political situation”.
He added: “That is killing pay TV networks in the region, and the entire eco-system. Especially for a region that’s trying to come up with an industry. I’m sure, however, that will be solved sometime soon.”